A performer blew bubbles, a man handed out teddy bears and parents shared hugs and prayers Monday outside a California elementary school, as students returned to classes a week after a gunman opened fire in the special education classroom of his estranged wife, killing her and an 8-year-old boy, AP reports.
Students on buses rolling up to North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino saw a large banner that read: “We love you.”
Dr. Dale Marsden, school district superintendent, said the reopening of the school was the first step toward healing after the deadly attack. “We are all feeling the pain that comes with a tragedy like this,” he said. “Together, we will move forward.”
North Park had been closed since April 10, when police said Cedric Anderson killed Karen Smith and Jonathan Martinez then fatally shot himself.
Police said Anderson had been targeting Smith, but the bullets hit Jonathan and 9-year-old Nolan Brandy, who was wounded and later released from a hospital.
Anderson went to the school after failing to persuade his wife to take him back after they broke up just weeks into their marriage. Marsden said he was proud of the faculty for the way they are handling the tragedy.
“They put their arms of healing around each other; they put their arms of healing around the students when they came in today,” he said. “It’s just a beautiful process.”
School officials said security has been tightened. Police stood guard outside the school where a memorial with flowers, candles and balloons remained on a sidewalk. Counselors were available for students and staff.
“We will not allow the actions of one individual to interrupt our commitment to our students,” Marsden said.